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massimousai@mac.com

The Music Of My Life: Joanna Newsom – YS –

The Music Of My Life: Joanna Newsom – YS –

When I bought her album, I had on my mind some favourable reviews read in few magazines the day before.

They were good reviews but none (with hindsight) had truly expressed what I felt inside record when I put on.

Let alone therefore as an “amateur” like myself can ever find the right words to best express what is inside this album.

Anyway with a lot of courage I try and see if I can be exhaustive, because this record is massive.

I bought the record on Friday and placed in a corner for a few hours waiting for the best moment to hear it and the moment that doesn’t come on the day.

So I transfer the record to my iPhone and decide to listen to it during the photo session scheduled for the next day. Simple plan.

The photo session is scheduled in Canary Wharf and the forecasts look promising with large clouds alternating with intense sun and thunderstorms.

In short, the ideal conditions to try to make the most of this unusual place in the heart of my city.

A place where a large part of the fate of the world is decided and on which our / your economic and social condition depends.

In Canary Wharf I get there by tube. I take it to Waterloo Station where I arrived by train, while I scan the sky with my eyes and on the iPhone random songs play languid tunes from a list of songs I had previously included in some playlists I used to listen while I was traveling.

I’m not listening is intense way because I have already assimilated them and they are just a perfect soundtrack to what passes before my eyes.

A series of very British in spirit melodies and familiar sounds from my years in London.

Sometimes I convince myself that I have calculated the “tempo” of the songs I choose well, in the sense that the things I do always arrive at the right moment, but in reality it is just a coincidence.

At this point a lightning bolt arrives.

Not from the sky, which threatens but does not throw anything, except strong heat shots with the sun’s rays unusually hot for being in late October and which allow me to play this kind of games.

No, the lightning comes to my ears.

I had almost forgotten that I had put Joanna Newson’s album on the iPhone and in the square, at the foot of One, in the centre of Canary Wharf, I stopped for a moment and I had a thrill, unusual since I should be used to mine age to the emotions of beautiful things.

I look on the iPhone screen to find the title of the song: “Only Skin“.

“You froze in your sand shoal prayed for your poor soul sky was a bread roll, soaking in a milk-bowl and when the bread broke, fell in bricks of wet smoke”

Joanna Newsom from “Only Skin”

The sudden shots, the intense and vibrant text, the soft and hard voice at the same time… they are as if enchanted and I don’t want to miss anything that is around me.

I’m kind of inspired and possessed and snap like crazy.

I have the feeling that the music will enter the photos.

I have a feeling that I am experiencing one of those moments that you will always remember.

A bit like when I first heard Grace by Jeff Buckley or when (little boy and with the snot handkerchief in one hand and the Pele’ and Cruyff stickers in the other) I put on my cassette player (never name was more appropriate ) Emerson, Lake and Palmer and I was shocked convinced (until then) that the music was that pop was on the radio was the only music exist in the world.

Or like that night that John Kennedy at midnight on the dot of an October in the first year of the new century, played (first in the world) that “Kid A” that actually opened the new century and closed the past forever.

In any case, after less than 30 seconds of Only Skin I realized that this album would not pass silently in my playlist of the year and that with another 30 seconds of listening it would have placed first without even opening discussions of any kind on remote other eventuality.

With that music in my ears and my heart beating much better than usual and with my soul in such an unreal peace that even the nerves (usually tense) were almost absent from my body, I took hundreds of photos and every time I see them again I remember those moments.

In short, if it seemed that I was in the mood, it is only because the music suggested angles, reflections to look for, filters to use.

And even the clouds seemed to play games in the sky that were just a help in finding easy shots and great buyers for photos.

But the truth is I was not alone in Canary Wharf, the truth is that I was in the company of a girl (beautiful, by the way) who could have been a pop star but who chose the most noble but less visible and profitable of the “Muse”.

Her name is Joanna Newsom and her album is called Ys.

Escaping from listen this record is a sin that you will not be able to remedy even with Purgatory.


They are not the best records ever. Maybe they are too.
But that’s not the point of this page on my blog.
Once a week, every Sunday.
The records that most contributed to getting to this point in my life.
The reason why I decided to write about my music in this way is that I am turning sixty this year.
Music has been essential in my growth as a person.
It made me make life choices, some even wrong, probably.
Every Monday, I will start to listen to a record that I think has been crucial in my past.
I’ll play it until I come out with happy memories, emotions and maybe some tears.
Finally, I will leave you every Sunday to let you find the record I was listening and to discovered something more about me.

Massimo Usai
Massimo Usai
Massimo Usai

Associate of British Freelance Photography


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